A group of activists in New Delhi, called ‘United Against Hate’ (UAH), have launched a new toll-free helpline (1800-3133-60000) in an attempt to address the growing hate crimes on minorities. Comprised of social workers, journalists, religious leaders, and lawyers, the group states that “at a time when the government has failed in ensuring justice, the helpline is aimed at providing legal and institutional support to victims of mob violence”.
Members will work in about a hundred Indian cities to track mob-violence and other hate crimes against minorities as well as assist victims in getting legal help and justice. UAH is also aiming to prevent such crimes by urging people to call on the helpline before a crime even takes place, when a mob is seen gathering.
Hate crime has been on the rise since Narendra Modi led Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), gained a majority and formed a right wing government in 2014. Mob lynchings, cow vigilante crimes and similar hate-motivated misdemeanour is now a sad reality for minorities, particularly muslims in India. The US Government’s 2018 report on ‘International religious freedoms’ painted a bleak picture of the growing religious intolerance in India and noted that "despite Indian government statistics indicating that communal violence has increased sharply over the past two years, the Modi administration has not addressed the problem". Ironically, this report was rejected by the Indian Foreign Ministry, a tactic in line with the Indian government’s general inaction towards rising hate crime.
The announcement of the helpline by UAH comes after nation-wide protests against the death of Tabrez Ansari, caused by mob lynching and subsequent negligence by the police to treat him. This incident, along with other similar ones since BJP’s re-election, has drawn necessary media and global attention to India’s growing religious intolerance. In this scenario, the helpline is the next practical move in the direction of providing constitutional safeguards to minorities.